Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a response to a traumatic event or series of events. Something that is traumatic for one person might not be traumatic for another, but what matters is how that experience stays with the person. It can include flashbacks to the traumatic event, uncontrollable movements and thoughts, anxiety and hypervigilance, physical and emotional triggers, among other symptoms.

PTSD is most commonly found amongst survivors of sexual violence, as well as war veterans, survivors of abuse or natural disasters, and witnesses to violence. Not all traumatic experiences lead to PTSD and there are many factors that affect the severity, such as the number of other traumatic experiences in a person’s life, their reaction to the event, and the kind of support they received after.

It is extremely important to take your feelings seriously and learn to treat and manage symptoms. There are a lot of approaches to working with PTSD, including psychotherapy (an approached specifically designed to work with trauma is EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), medication, sharing in community, support groups, somatic interventions around triggers, and spiritual and indigenous approaches to healing.

94% of survivors of sexual violence experience PTSD symptoms during the first 2 weeks following the assault

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network

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Approximately 8% of Americans have PTSD at any given time – the same size as the population of Texas

PTSD United

Thoughts:

A person with PTSD might think things like:

  • “Nothing here is safe, even though people are telling me it is – all I feel is the way I felt that night.”
  • “I can’t stop thinking about what happened, and it doesn’t appear that this situation is different in any way.”
  • “All those years of how they treated me have sunk in, and I don’t know how to have relationships that are any different.”

Feelings/Experiences:

A person with PTSD might feel or experience:

  • Body goes into shock, can’t stop shaking, little or no control over body
  • A sound or smell takes you back to a time that was not safe
  • Intense fear of surroundings

About 10 of every 100 (or 10%) of women develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 (or 4%) of men

National Center for PTSD

Additional Resources

Project Welcome Home Troops Provide safe and effective techniques for veterans to help manage stress relief and health and well-being. Offer regular “Power Breath Meditation” workshops throughout North America and details on the effectiveness of mindfulness and breathing for veterans suffering from PTSD. Go to site
RAINN Rape Abuse and Incest National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. They operate a National Sexual Assault telephone and online hotlines to get counseling, assist loved ones, and help survivors recover. The site includes sections related specifically to reporting sexual assault crimes to the police, and is active in education and policy making. Go to site
Anxiety and Depression Association of America Links and advice on treatment options, with a database to search the therapist nearest you (in 13 different countries). Provides brief overviews and facts of Anxiety disorders, OCD, PTSD and related illnesses, with links to news and research articles. Offers a membership for researchers and professionals to network, share research and promote practices. Go to site
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) For support and family help, with a network through communities around the U.S. for individuals and families struggling with mental health challenges. Contains articles aimed at helping people find resources, get help, and connect with those in similar situations and includes online discussion groups. Offer a number of ways to get involved including NAMI Walks, awareness events and campus groups. Also offer various support groups for grief and bereavement in different areas of the U.S.  Go to site
National Institute of Mental Health Extensive information and research transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses for prevention, recovery, and cure. Offers health information specific to age and gender. Go to site
Mental Health America Leading nonprofit providing mental health support, recovery and advocacy. Have a number of resources specific to school and workplace wellness and extensive policy and advocacy information. Their prevention campaign, B4Stage4 encourages mental health screenings and statistics to change the way we think about mental health.  Go to site
PTSD Association of Canada Chaired by distinguished Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire Offers, this site offers: self assessment tests, coping strategies, personal stories, resources, and PTSD in the news. Go to site
Tuck - Trauma and Sleep Tuck Sleep does research on improving people's sleeping habits and abilities, and this page explores how trauma and PTSD can affect someone's sleep. Go to site

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